From the pen of Ben Elton and combined with the music and lyrics from Queen, We Will Rock You has quite the history, and with wildly popular productions spanning the globe since 2002, the return to Auckland is no small thing.
With roots in The Matrix, the premise of a centralised, digitised and controlled society where music is the product of machines and not a scruffy human noise from a garage, the We Will Rock You vision is just as pertinent now as almost 20 years ago.
That said, Elton’s story and script have been panned from day one, and rightly so. The story takes a distant 3rd place to the music and cast performances. It’s a lurch from song to song, punctuated with the occasional gag, to be fair all of which land laughs.
However, that’s not what We Will Rock You is about. This is an unabashed celebration of Queen’s music and that celebration is shared completely by the audience as feet are stamped, hands are waved and clapped, and singalongs break out often. That’s why the show has won as many if not more audience awards than critic awards. The music is brilliantly served by this production’s band and musical directors Mark Bradley and Edwin Randall.
The energy literally pours off the stage and the cast give everything. Annie Crummer, as the Killer Queen, lays waste to all around her. She starred in the Australian production of 2003, she’s recorded Another One Bites The Dust at the invitation of Queen themselves and burns up the stage every moment she’s there. Her voice and presence are electric and worth the price of admission alone. However, she’s ably supported by Bridie Dixon as Scaramouche, Rebecca Wright as Oz and William Deane as Galileo. Bridie crackles with attitude and pushes Deane to match her as they face off as the battling couple at the centre of things.
David Mackie as Buddy and Caleb Muller as Brit shine in their respective roles bringing laughs and the occasional Maori touch, so the local flourishes are there to surround the Bogan blowtorch performance from Annie Crummer.
The production and cast deliver fully on the promise of a celebration. If you’re looking for a character-driven, emotional story with music, this isn’t for you. If you’re a music lover, looking to be lifted up by great performances of staggeringly good songs and celebrate that music, this is a treat for all the senses and a great night out.
Reviewed by Mike Hales
Photo credit Some Bizarre Monkey.